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Americans in Europe

Right Back Renaissance: Cameron and Chandler Star

Brad Evans may have struggled against Korea on Saturday, but the right back position isn't all doom and gloom—two Americans shined at the position over the weekend. ASN's Brian Sciaretta reports.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
February 03, 2014
10:25 AM
BRAD EVANS STRUGGLED at right back for the national team over the weekend and he picked a bad time to do so. Timothy Chandler and Geoff Cameron both turned in fantastic performances at that position, helping their clubs to big victories and raising more questions about Jurgen Klinsmann’s depth chart.

Here’s a quick look at the six best performances from Americans playing in Europe.

No. 6: Royal-Dominique Fennell

Royal-Dominique Fennell may not be a household name—even if it is an awesome moniker—but the California-born German-American has been a consistent performer since joining the Stuttgart Kickers in 2007. Over the years, he broke into the club’s first team and helped it earn promotion to the 3.Liga. As a natural central defender, he even managed to see time with the U.S. U-23 team in 2011-2012.

On Saturday, Fennell lifted the Kickers to a 2-1 victory over Elversberg when he headed home a cross in the 87th minute. A video of his goal can be found at 6:42 of the clip below.

No. 5: Juan Agudelo

Juan Agudelo did not disappoint in his first start for Utrecht on Sunday. Playing against Eredivisie leaders Ajax, Agudelo assisted on Utrecht’s equalizing goal when he headed a long ball onto a rushing Steve de Ridder, who converted the easy chance. In addition to the assist, Agudelo had a solid game and looked dangerous on multiple occasions.

With Chris Wondolowski scoring two goals for the national team on Saturday, Agudelo will have to start scoring if he wants to make a late push to get into the picture for the World Cup team. His next opportunity will be on Thursday when Utrecht hosts PEC Zwolle.

No. 4: Danny Williams

If there is a one player who is quietly making a solid push to climb back into the national team picture, it’s Danny Williams. This season he has been a steady force in the midfield for a surging Reading side that has looked dominant over the past few weeks. In Reading’s 3-0 win over Millwall on Saturday, Williams controlled the midfield and even managed to score his first goal of the season—a right-footed shot into the far corner in the 76th minute.

No. 3: Jozy Altidore

Much has been made about Altidore’s lack of goal scoring this season but in his last two games he has been very effective in helping Sunderland to consecutive Premier League wins. In Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Newcastle, Altidore proved difficult to defend, passed well, and his hold-up play was instrumental in maintaining possession and building up an attack.

Yes, he should have done much better with his breakaway chance in the second half, but the 24-year-old’s backheel pass in the buildup of the opening goal was one of the highlights of the game. He is playing with confidence and it wouldn’t surprise me if one goal would start a real scoring streak for the New Jersey native.

No 2: Timothy Chandler

Nurnberg did not win a game in the first half of the season, but Gertjan Verbeek has his team on the upswing with back-to-back wins coming out of the winter break.

Chandler was named to the Bundesliga team of the week last weekend in a win over Hoffenheim and he might do the same again this week after another first-rate effort in the 3-1 win over Hertha Berlin. Whatever the issues are that keeps him out of the national team picture, Chandler has been playing with a purpose to start 2014.

With that said, it bears mentioning that Gertjan Verbeek continues to show a magical touch for American players. It started with Michael Bradley at Heerenveen, continued with Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson at AZ Alkmaar, and now Chandler is back in top form.

No. 1: Geoff Cameron

On the final day of the January transfer window, Sunderland made a push for Geoff Cameron but it was quickly declined. It’s easy to understand why Cameron is in such demand: He has blossomed into a very, very good right back in the Premier League. Cameron is also the best American defender in the game right now, and by a wide margin.

On Saturday, Stoke City stunned Manchester United, 2-1, defeating a squad that featured Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, and newly acquired Juan Mata. Cameron was once again one of the best defenders on the field and he effectively shut down United on his side of the pitch. With the victory Stoke moved into 11th place in the Premier League.

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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